What Are 2024’s ‘Dividend Aristocrats’ for Investors?


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Playing It Safe

If you plan on investing over the long term, there will be times when it’s hard to get excited about the market outlook. That might be because you expect the economy to weaken, but it can even happen when your overall vibe is just “meh”. In those situations, it’s sometimes best to take a step back and become more defensive. And if market stress does materialize, being defensive before the stress hits could… pay dividends.

Forgive the pun, but it wouldn’t be a proper column if we didn’t start with one, even in Liz’s absence. As Liz covered last week, defensive investments generally offer some combination of yield and protection for times of stress. Dividend aristocrats – S&P 500 stocks that have a long history of paying consistently increasing dividends – are an interesting way to keep those elements in mind and play it safe while maintaining some upside potential. This group of stocks also has a higher dividend yield than the broader S&P 500 (see chart below), which enables investors to squeeze out a bit of extra income without having to take on more risk, as would usually be the case in the bond market.

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The spread between the dividend yields of the overall index and the dividend aristocrats has widened over the last decade, owing in large part to the increasing importance of mega-cap tech companies in the S&P 500 that don’t pay any dividends at all.

All else equal, higher dividend yields indicate that more of an investment’s value will be realized in the short-term, as opposed to investments that focus more on future growth. Remember: The further into the future you look, the less visibility and more uncertainty there will be.

More Boring or Less Exciting?

For the most part, you know what you’re getting with dividend aristocrats, and there’s value in that… get it? That they’re able to consistently provide dividends is reflective of the maturity of their business models and sectors. Compared to the rest of the S&P 500, the differences jump out at you.


Dividend aristocrats are disproportionately found in Consumer Staples, Materials, and Industrials, which account for nearly 60% of the group but only about 17% of the overall index. Conversely, Information Technology, Consumer Discretionary, and Communication Services account for over 48% of the S&P 500, yet less than 8% of the dividend aristocrats. Moreover, while they’re not specifically segmented out in the chart, none of the “Magnificent Seven” (Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Meta, Nvidia, and Tesla) are part of the dividend aristocrats despite being over 28% of the S&P 500.

Mature companies, ones that some would say are boring or not exciting, are overrepresented in the dividend aristocrats. They play a vital role in the American economy that gives their businesses relative stability compared to some more exciting options. That level of stability can help provide a defensive ballast to portfolios.

Show Me the Money

Given what we know about dividend aristocrats, the fact that they’re a lower risk way of investing in stocks seems pretty obvious. The theory is all well and good, but in investing it’s equally important to talk about what actually happens. Do they perform better during times of stress? Of course, the disclaimer “past performance is no guarantee of future results” is used for good reason and applies here as well. But, we can also learn from the saying “history doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes”.


Dividend aristocrats have historically outperformed the S&P 500 most during periods of bull steepening, which are periods where Treasury yields fall, with shorter maturities falling more than longer-term ones. This scenario usually happens when the Federal Reserve cuts rates due to economic weakness or recession. A look at history would seem to support what our reasoning told us: Given their defensive characteristics and greater emphasis on income over growth, dividend aristocrats tend to outperform during tough economic conditions and stress.

So where does that leave us today? Market consensus is for the Fed to cut rates five or six times in 2024, and for the economy to decelerate to a period of below-trend growth. That sort of environment would be consistent with bull steepening, which has historically been kinder to dividend aristocrats than the broader index. However, as the last few years have shown us: This is a cycle for the ages and anything can happen.

This article originally appeared on SoFi.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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The Average Credit Score In Your State (How Do You Measure Up?)

The Average Credit Score In Your State (How Do You Measure Up?)

As a whole, the average US credit score in 2022 was 716

Given that a score between 670-739 is considered good credit and there was an average five-point increase from 2020, it shows many Americans are on the right track. 

But to go even deeper here’s the average credit score in every state based on the most recent data from Experian.

kitzcorner // istockphoto

Average Credit Score: 691

At 25 points below the national average, Alabama has the third-lowest average credit score on our list. 

That said, it did rise by five points from 2020 to 2021, jumping from 686 to 691, indicating that it’s heading in a positive direction. 


Average Credit Score: 717

With a score of 717, Alaska is one of the higher-ranking states on our list and isn’t too far from reaching very good credit status, which starts at 740. 

Also, the average credit score increased by three points from 714 in 2020. 


Average Credit Score: 710

Rising four points from 706 to 710 year-over-year, Arizona residents have maintained a solid average credit score.

They’re right in the heart of the good credit range of 670-739 and are following a positive trajectory. 


Average Credit Score: 694

At 694, Arkansas is one of the 10 states in the US that had a score of under 700 in 2021. 

However, like every single state on our list, Arkansas has seen its average credit score rise, increasing by four points from 690 in 2020 to 694 in 2021. 


Average Credit Score: 721

While not quite as high as some other states, California clocked a healthy score of 721 on average. 

There was also a five-point bump from 716 in 2020, situating it fairly close to very good credit territory. 

Michael Valdez/istockphoto

Average Credit Score: 728

Speaking of healthy credit scores, Colorado collectively hit 728 in 2021, which was up three points from 725 in 2020. 

This makes Colorado one of the highest-ranking states on our list and means most of its residents are spending responsibly.

Jonathan Ross/istockphoto

Average Credit Score: 728

Also at 728, Connecticut ties Colorado with its average credit score and shows it’s definitely doing something right when it comes to spending. 

Note that the score also saw a healthy increase of five points year-over-year from 723 in 2020. 


Average Credit Score: 714

Delaware falls right about in the middle of our list with its average credit score. 

It’s considerably higher than some states in the 680s but not as high as states in the 730s or higher. 

As for growth between 2020 and 2021, Delaware’s collective score rose by four points from 710 to 714.

Songquan Deng/shutterstock

Average Credit Score: 706

With a score of 706, Florida ranks as one of the lower scores on our list—something I found a bit surprising given it ranks eighth in the country for overall economic outlook. 

However, it still sits respectably in the good credit range, and Floridians saw their average score increase by five points over the past year.

Art Wager/istockphoto

Average Credit Score: 693

Georgia is one of a smaller group of states that failed to reach a 700 credit score in 2021. In fact, it’s one of the lowest scores on the list. 

That said, there was positive growth year-over-year, rising by four points from 689 in 2020.


Average Credit Score: 732

Sitting at 732 in 2021, Hawaii ranks in the top ten on our list and saw a five-point increase from 727 in 2020.

Clearly, Hawaiians understand credit best practices, are smart spenders, and are following a positive trajectory.

Art Wager/istockphoto

Average Credit Score: 725

Not too far behind Hawaii is Idaho with an average credit score of 725. 

This state also saw a five-point increase year-over-year, going from 720 in 2020 to 725 in 2021, indicating good spending habits and positive credit growth.  


Average Credit Score: 719

With a score of 719, Illinois sits solidly on the list. 

While there was only a three-point increase from 716 in 2020, which was lower than many other states, Illinois is definitely heading in the right direction.

Sean Pavone/istockphoto

Average Credit Score: 712

Indiana ranks right in the middle for the average credit score among states in America. 

Like many others, it saw a five-point increase from 707 in 2020 to 712 in 2021, indicating its residents are adopting smarter spending habits.


Average Credit Score: 729

Sitting at 729 in 2021, Iowa had one of the more impressive average credit scores in the US. 

In terms of year-over-year growth, there was a three-point increase from 726 in 2020, meaning it’s looking good overall. 


Average Credit Score: 721

Not too far behind Iowa is Kansas, boasting a respectable score in its own right of 721. 

Like every state on this list, there was an increase in average credit score, jumping four points from 717 in 2020, marking a decent improvement. 

Michael Pham

Average Credit Score: 702

Kentucky barely hit the 700 credit score threshold, reaching 702 in 2021. 

While there’s certainly room for improvement in this state, there was solid growth from the 698 score the prior year, showing Kansas is moving in the right direction. 

Thomas Kelley

Average Credit Score: 689

At just 689, Louisiana had the second-lowest average credit score in America in 2021 after Mississippi at 681.

There was, however, a five-point increase, which is promising. But Louisianans are great candidates for tradelines to help raise their credit scores.


Average Credit Score: 727

Maine is one of the few states that experienced a six-point increase in average credit score, rising from 721 in 2020 to 727 in 2021. 

Combine that with having one of the higher scores on this list, and Maine is an extremely healthy state when it comes to credit. 


Average Credit Score: 716

Sitting at 716, Maryland is right in the middle of US states and saw a four-point increase year-over-year, climbing from 712 in 2020.

By this data, Maryland is looking good and inching its way toward having a very good credit score. 


Average Credit Score: 732

At just 10 points less than Minnesota, which is the top state in the country, Massachusetts has one of the highest average scores at 732. 

This puts them in the top ten on the list, and it’s only eight points from reaching very good credit. 

There was also a three-point increase from 729 in 2020.


Average Credit Score: 719

With a statewide score of 719, Michigan ranks in the middle of the US states. 

Its average credit score isn’t great, but it’s still solid and saw a five-point increase, moving up from 714 in 2020. 


Average Credit Score: 742

Boasting a super impressive average credit score of 742, Minnesota is not just the highest-ranking state on our list but the only state with a very good credit score.

There was also a three-point increase, going from 2020 to 742 in 2021, which means Minnesota is still improving. 

Jacob Boomsma

Average Credit Score: 681

On the other end of the spectrum is Mississippi with the lowest overall score in the United States at just 681.

This puts it just above fair credit, which ranges from 580-669. But it’s still well above a poor 550 credit score


Average Credit Score: 711

In 2020, Missouri had an average credit score of 707, which is okay but not great.

In 2021, that number rose four points to 711, showing an improvement, but there’s still work to be done.


Average Credit Score: 730

Montana is another top-performing state with an impressive score of 730, putting them just 10 points away from very good credit score status at 740. 

It should also be noted that Montana’s score rose four points from 726 in 2020, putting them on an excellent trajectory. 


Average Credit Score: 731

Hitting one point higher than Montana, Nebraska also has one of the best average credit scores on our list at 731 in 2021. 

This was a three-point increase from the previous year, which was 728, and Nebraskans have proven to be responsible spenders. 

Matt Bills / iStock

Average Credit Score: 701

Improving from 695 in 2020 to 701 in 2021, Nevada was one of the few states that saw a six-point increase during that time frame. 

That said, it still barely exceeded the 600 range, meaning there’s plenty of room for improvement.


Average Credit Score: 734

Just six points away from the very good credit club, New Hampshire hit an average score of 734, putting it in the top ten. 

Also, there was a five-point increase from 729 in 2020, meaning there are some seriously smart spenders in New Hampshire.


Average Credit Score: 725

While not quite as high as some states, New Jersey has a highly respectable score of 725.

And with a four-point increase from 721 in 2020, this state is clearly heading in the right direction. 


Average Credit Score: 699

New Mexico just fell short of collectively reaching 700 in 2021, which means it has one of the lowest average credit scores in the country. 

It should be mentioned, however, that it did raise its score by five points from 694 in 2020. 


Average Credit Score: 722

Being the economic powerhouse that it is, it’s unsurprising that New York has one of the better average scores in the US at 722.

And with a four-point increase from 718 in 2020, it’s following a favorable path that’s only likely to improve. 


Average Credit Score: 707

With an average score of 707, this isn’t anything to write home about for North Carolina. 

Better spending habits are in order. But on the positive side of things, there was a four-point rise in the average credit score, going from 703 in 2020. 


Average Credit Score: 733

North Dakota was only seven points away from collectively reaching very good credit status in 2021. 

It was also just nine points less than the top-ranking state of Minnesota, which was at 742 and was up three points from 730 in 2020. 

This makes North Dakota an enviable state for credit scores. 


Average Credit Score: 715

Ohio is a mid-ranking state with a decent average score of 715. 

It’s not great, but it’s not terrible, and it’s gone up by four points from 711 in 2020. 


Average Credit Score: 692

At just 11 points above the lowest-ranking state of Mississippi which was 681, Oklahoma is in the bottom ten of the list. 

And while there has been an improvement from 2020 when the average score was 690, that’s one of the smallest increases at just two points. 


Average Credit Score: 731

Moving from a low average score to a much higher one, there’s Oregon which reached 731 in 2021. 

That makes it one of the top states in the country, and the average score increased by four points from 727 in 2020.


Average Credit Score: 723

Not too far below Oregon is Pennsylvania with an average score of 723. 

This puts it slightly above the middle of our list, and this state increased its average score by three points year-over-year, rising from 720 in 2020. 


Average Credit Score: 723

Rhode Island has the exact same average credit score as Pennsylvania at 723. 

It too ranks in the middle of our list, and it saw a four-point increase year-over-year, going from 719 in 2020. 


Average Credit Score: 693

Not all that far ahead of Mississippi, the lowest-ranking state in the US is South Carolina which only had an average score of 693. 

There’s significant work to be done to simply get it to 700, but it did see a four-point jump from 689 in 2020. 


Average Credit Score: 733

South Dakota’s score was just nine points lower than the top-ranking state in the country, which was Minnesota at 742. 

So there are definitely some smart spenders in South Dakota. It should, however, be mentioned that its score only rose two points from 731 in 2020, which was less than many other states.


Average Credit Score: 701

From 2020 to 2021, Tennessee collectively increased its average credit score from 697 to 701, putting it just north of the 700 mark. 

But given it’s one of the lowest-ranking states in the country, there’s certainly still work to be done, and spending habits need to be improved. 


Average Credit Score: 692

Texas reached a score of just 692 in 2021, putting it only 11 points ahead of the worst-ranking state of Mississippi, which was at 681. 

There has been a slight improvement from 688 in 2020, but it still has a long way to go. 


Average Credit Score: 727

At 727 in 2021, Utah is firing on all cylinders with its credit-building habits. 

It saw a four-point increase from 723 in 2020, which indicates smart spending and sustained improvement. 


Average Credit Score: 736

With an average score of 736, Vermont ranked second overall in the US and is just four points away from very good credit territory. 

There was a five-point increase, jumping from 731 in 2020, and other states could learn a lot from Vermont. 

” DonLand”

Average Credit Score: 721

Ranking a bit further down on the list but still having a respectable average credit score is Virginia.

It was 721 in 2021, which marked a four-point increase from 717 in 2020.

ABEMOS / istockphoto

Average Credit Score: 734

Another top-ten state is Washington, which ranked fourth overall with a score of 734.

This marks a four-point boost from 730 in 2020, which solidifies Washington as a state of responsible spenders.

thyegn / istockphoto

Average Credit Score: 699

Not ranking as high on the list is West Virginia, which failed to reach an average credit score of 700, plateauing at 699.

However, it did manage to improve that number by four points, which was at 695 in 2020. 


Average Credit Score: 735

Third on the list is Wisconsin, boasting a fantastic score of 735. 

There was a year-over-year increase of three points, bumping up from 732 in 2020, showing clear signs of smart spending.


Average Credit Score: 722

The final state on our list is Wyoming which had a solid score of 722. 

It’s nothing over the top, but it’s certainly respectable, and Wyoming saw a three-point jump from 719 in 2020.

This article originally appeared on DigitalHoney and was syndicated by MediaFeed.



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